After an Automobile Accident: What to Do
- Author Aaron Crane
- Published June 14, 2016
- Word count 985
Being involved in a car accident would shake anyone up. The accident itself and the following days can be confusing and unnerving. In almost a blink of an eye, your life can change in so many ways, and not usually for the better. Can you put a price on the well-being of yourself or others that are injured in a car accident? There are many questions to answer, documents to fill out and things to be concerned about. Some of those questions and concerns include:
What happens to my car after an auto accident?
Will my insurance pay for the damages?
Will my insurance rates increase because of the accident?
Will I or anyone else involved in the collision face criminal charges?
Is it possible to be sued because of the accident?
What should be done first after the accident?
Do I need to follow certain steps or protocols?
Who should I call to advise of the accident?
After an accident there are certain things you should handle. The best course of action is to be proactive and start handling these things quickly and efficiently, engaging people with the right experience to help you as needed. Having an experienced lawyer on your side following a car wreck ensures things are much easier, less stressful and thoroughly handled.
--- Document the Scene of Your Accident ---
When an accident occurs, it can be difficult to remember what to do at the scene. But the most important thing to do while still at the accident site is to document the scene as effectively as possible. If your smartphone or other device is still working after the accident, use it to establish records that will prove helpful in the near future. Do the following:
Take photos of the involved vehicles
Note or photograph vehicle positions in the wreck
Get pictures of any skid marks on the ground
Note any property damage
Note damage to involved vehicles
Document the weather at the time of the accident
Take notes of other conditions that may have contributed to the accident
Document signage, traffic lights and crosswalks if these are part of the accident cause or scene
Get names and contact information, including phone numbers, email addresses and mailing addresses, for accident witnesses
Police are usually quite thorough in their reporting of accidents. But this information may be needed before the police report is available to you. You also need to ensure the scene is well documented in case you have a different perspective regarding the occurrences leading to the accident or at the site. Further, sometimes witnesses leave the scene before police even arrive.
If you have suffered serious injuries in the accident, you may not be able to document the scene. If you are injured and may be hurt more by moving about, do not risk additional injury or pain. Call 911 for help and do as the paramedics instruct when they arrive. If you are expecting to be transported by ambulance or made to remain still by paramedics, try to call someone you trust to come to the scene and fulfill the documentation duties for you.
--- Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney ---
The first instinct after leaving the accident scene, or even while awaiting police, is to call your insurance company. But the first call should always be to an experienced personal injury attorney. This is because an attorney can help you in dealing with the insurance companies.
Insurance companies are most interested in their own profits as a business. Because they lose money when paying claims, insurance companies will try to serve their own best interests before yours. An attorney can help ensure that the insurance companies are more forthcoming according to your needs and what you deserve after the accident.
There will also likely be several insurance companies involved in paying claims for your accident, if more than one vehicle was involved. This multi-driver involvement can lead to some delays in claim payment, as well as diversion from one insurance company to another.
If you contact an attorney before the insurance company, the attorney can handle this for you. Having a lawyer on your side will help expedite your claim because personal injury law firms know how to deal with insurance companies and their processes. As a result of working with a lawyer, you will also likely be paid more for your injuries and losses.
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means that they are not paid for their time until you receive payments, yourself. The law firm will simply retain the predetermined percentage from your recovery when they gain the amount for you. This works well for most clients, because it is incentive for the law firm to quickly and fully recover amounts for you.
--- Participating in the Process with Your Lawyer and Insurance Company ---
When working with an attorney, you will still need to be involved in your case. You will likely need to attend doctor’s visits, interviews with the police or other investigators, and dealings with insurance companies. It is very important that you work with your lawyer as they need you to so that the case and your claim recovery will move smoothly. There may be things you do not enjoy doing, such as visiting the doctor. But these steps are important for insuring that you receive the best possible outcome for your case and financial claim.
When the insurance companies request documents or items associated with the accident, you will need to communicate with your attorney and follow their guidance regarding how you respond. Although you may feel bothered at times by requests or things you must do, the outcome will prove your time was spent in a worthwhile manner. Every participant in the claim process will need to work together to get things done and return the largest possible amount to you.
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